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League week 8

The second half of the season started with a heatwave, both literally and metaphorically!

In Division 1, two clubs put down their markers to show that they intend to stay in the division next year. Watlington, who were struggling, took on Carterton in a match switched from the latter’s home green to Watlington’s. On past form, this should have been a close match, in the event Watlington proved too strong on all rinks, scoring almost double the shots of the visitors for a much needed six points.

West Witney, also in possible danger, hosted neighbours Witney Town, who continue to find life at this level tough. Three one sided games and a fourth that saw the visitors briefly lead after eight ends but eventually succumb, gave West the six points that they really wanted. Town’ next three games are as tough as they get, and it will take some outstanding bowling by their whole squad if they are to climb off the bottom of the table.

The third match could have been close but Banbury Central used their home advantage to defeat Witney Mills. Chris Weller’s rink provided Mills their point though Paul Robbin’s men fought well only going down on the last end. Central move above Carterton into second place thanks to their better shot count.

The other three divisions all saw top of the table clashes and the expectation was for some close encounters. The reality was far from it!

In Division 2, City and County proved far too strong for Adderbury with most appropriate post-match comment coming from the Adderbury captain – “Nightmare!” Two rinks were very close; indeed, Omar Sharif and Chris Skidmore produced the lowest scoring rink anywhere in the league this season with the City men hanging on as Adderbury scored five, of the six they needed, in the final two ends.

South Oxford move above Adderbury having defeated Kidlington on three rinks. All four rinks in this game look, from the score cards, to have been determined early on the with winning rinks all being ahead at the halfway point.

For the second week running, Headington finished with a very odd result. Keith Field’s rink were dominant, for Chipping Norton, winning by twenty-one shots. Headington won the other three rinks, by a margin of twenty-one shots so the shot count was tied – again! Colin Whitehead’s rink must have felt the disappointment most as they dropped four shots in the last two ends of a game they had dominated to that point.

Division 3 saw one of the comebacks of the season in the match at Bloxham. Ed Creed’s rink, for Banbury Central, were totally outplayed early in the game by Tony Gardner and his men going nineteen to four down after nine ends. However, Tony’s rink only scored a single point in the second half of the game, and that on the final end, whilst the Central rink racked up nineteen themselves! Game to Central. With Tom McKenna’s rink winning by seventeen shots the match points went to Central, who move above Bloxham in the table.

The big game in this division was at Shiplake, who have produced their strongest teams and best performances at home. Close rival Bicester had other ideas! Whilst Jim Bland’s rink tried to send the match to Shiplake, winning their game by twenty-five shots, scoring seven fours or fives in the process, the usually dependable Barry Lambourne, was losing by nineteen shots and the top spot reverted to Bicester.

Thame could now move into second place if they defeated Hanborough, who have been playing well of late. That they achieved but they have to thank Chris Shannon’s rink for their win, as their dominant twenty-two victory ensured Thame took the match points. 

Division 4’s highlight was also the game between the top two clubs. In their first match in the league ever, Burford had defeated Woodstock. That was in early May, how times change! This week, in the return fixture Woodstock dominated and took all the available points. The best revenge win came from Tim Stevens’ rink which, by chance, played Jim Hurren’s men in the first encounter and lost by twenty-two shots. In this encounter they won by six!

With West Oxford not playing, City and County took the opportunity to climb much nearer the promotion race by defeating Oxford University Press. Three rinks were well ahead by the halfway point only John Curtis’ men getting close to the City and County men. Mark Plested’s rink were not going to let that happen and moved away in the second half of the game to ensure maximum points for the visitors.

Blackbird Leys got their mojo back after a few poor weeks as they also reversed the result of the earlier match against South Oxford. Unfortunately, both clubs now have little chance of getting near the promotion race this season.

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